Maybe pasta with red clam sauce isn't the classiest and most complicated of Italian dishes, but I have always had a thing for clam sauce - either white or red. I actually prefer white clam sauce to red, but Alex requested pasta with red clam sauce this evening. Then he dug up this recipe from Food & Wine, which I find mildly ironic after my post with the Carrot-Ginger soup where I blathered on for an entire paragraph about how we never make recipes from Food & Wine. And here we are making a dish closely adapted from a Food & Wine recipe just a few days later. Oh the irony.
This recipe isn't the best Linguine with Red Clam Sauce I have ever had, but it is easy and tasty. It's also better than some restaurants' versions that I have tried. All in all I would say this recipe is good, not great, but sometimes that is really what you are going for. We changed the original recipe some to boost up the spice factor. We also used one pound of fresh egg linguine, rather than using dried pasta. In the future I might use dried pasta, rather than fresh, because it has more bite to it. It's almost impossible to cook fresh pasta al dente, but some bite to the pasta would provide a nice textural contrast to the softness of the clams and stewed tomatoes. I would probably also add some cockles to the pasta in addition to the canned clams, in order to increase the quantity of clams/cockles in the sauce and to give the sauce some variety. After all, if canned clams make the sauce tasty, fresh cockles could only make it better. Fresh cockles would obviously add another level of complexity to the dish, but a little complexity never hurt anyone.
Recipe after the jump!
Linguine with Red Clam Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried red-pepper flakes
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 pound chopped clams, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 lb. linguine
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, thyme, and red-pepper flakes; bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, clam juice, and salt. Raise the heat to moderate and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Add the clams and bring back to a simmer. Continue simmering until the clams are just done, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the parsley and black pepper. Taste the sauce for salt, and add more if needed.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, according to package instructions. Drain and toss with the sauce.